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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Andy's Angles: Tree One

It appears Lackawanna County has two Christmas trees.  This one is on the Spruce Street side of Courthouse Square.  I like the angle and didn't crop the photo.  Here's why.  I like the reflection of the shiny, crusty snow, and the colored lights high atop the Scranton Life building.  The courthouse is off to my left.  the Spruce and Adams Avenue intersection is at about mid photo.

Friday, December 13, 2019

40

I don't remember the exact date, but I am sure it was right around this time of year, and this time of month.

Mid December, 1979, 40 years ago.  It was my first time on the radio.

Way back when, my Marywood College radio station, WVMW 91.5, was a 12 hour a day, ten watt operation.  There were a few times a year when we would do "Rock Weekends."  We would be 24/7 for three days straight.

A Rock Weekend was set for mid December.  The Communication Arts department was fairly large in those days.  There were more than enough bodies to keep the place running 12 hours a day, seven days a week.  They needed some extra help for that Rock Weekend, but there was a problem, as I saw it.  First semester freshman were not allowed on the air.  It was a good policy.  You had to learn something about  radio in general first, and the station in particular.

There was an opening for a 2:30 AM Sunday morning shift.  Don't ask me how I did it.  Schmoozing has never been one of my strong points, but I am a nice guy.  I went to station management and made my case.  They were desperate enough to say "yes."

First song:  "The Stranger" by Billy Joel.  That was also my last song when my college radio days came to an end in January of 1983.

I'll be blunt.  I was awful.  Radio is not as easy as it looks.  You think you have it all planned out in your head, but it's a different world when you open the microphone.

As the months wore on, confidence gained, skills acquired.  I likely talked way too much during my college radio days.  There were times the WVMW sounded more like an AM full service station rather than an FM album rocker.  The way I looked at it, I was there to learn.  Anyone can play record after record.  It's what you do when the microphone is open that really counts.  Management was rather loose in those days.  It's a good thing.  We had the freedom to develop, experiment, find ourselves.

The station has changed quite a bit over the years.  It's in a new building.  Great facility.  Not much live programming, and I'm not going to drone on about that again.

I just consider myself exceptionally lucky to have what I had, and when I had it.

Happy 40!


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Merry Christmas to Me

I spent my early years in radio, and I still fondly look back on those years.

A big part of my radio years was a big microphone.  This is the story of the Electro Voice model DO 56 L.

WARM had a great engineer, Pat Castellani.  He knew the value of quality sound, and he also sought to make my life a little easier.  The "L" in DO 56 L stands for "long."  When you are chasing politicians and perpetrators (sometimes one in the same), the extra few inches means a lot.  You can get the mic closer, past the other radio and TV types.  It didn't hurt that I had a WARM logo on top of  the mic that was the size of a barn door.  Pat ordered one for me, and it was worth its weight in gold.

To make a long story short, I was recently feeling nostalgic, and I missed my DO 56 L.  I found one for sale on the internet, and I bought it as an early Christmas present to myself.

I don't know what I'll do with it.  It's just nice to have in my collection of broadcasting stuff.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Thieves!

It makes me shake my head in wonder.

It's already been established that I do a lot of shopping in the middle of the night, and much of that is in a big box store.

What has happened to American society?  It seems like an ever expanding selection of merchandise is locked up.

Want razor blades, high end soaps and body washes, memory cards, flash drives, computers and computer accessories, baby items, etc...  It's locked up!  You have to find a clerk to unlock your selection and good luck finding one at 3 am.

If that isn't enough, one store in the chain has the cosmetics department cordoned off during the overnight hours.  This is the same store that has a security guard at the entrance to check receipts.  Forget that he's always playing with his phone while the shadiest of people congregate in the parking lot.  Once you're out the door, you're on your own.

No wonder why America now shops on-line.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Change

I did something I rarely do-- change headers mid month.

While there was nothing wrong with the Providence Square, Scranton tree that was in the header slot, this one really blew me away.

It's in a parking lot along Main Street in Pittston.

Pittston has come a long way in recent years.  Some old buildings have been torn down.  Others have been repaired.  Plenty of parking, some night life, community activities and an active library.

The tree is the icing on the cake.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Christmas Letter

Once again, my toughest task of the Christmas season isn't buying and wrapping gifts.  It's not dealing with holiday traffic.  It's not dealing with crushing depression.  It's a simple letter.

I do this every year, and let me refresh your memory.  My college friend, Sue sends a card and letter every year.  Sue is a great girl and she deserves the wonderful life she has.  It's maddening to come up with a response to the letter.

As always, I share the first draft with you.

Dear Sue:

Thank you for the card and letter.  It is one of the highlights of my holiday season.  I'm glad it was another great year for you and the family.  Looks like you had a great time on those vacations and I'm glad the kids are doing well.

Me?  I'm okay.

My iron man streak of more than two years without a sick day ended in the spring.  A stomach ailment did me in.  I hadn't experienced pain like that in a while.

My pen and tie collecting has thankfully slowed down.

I made some new friends.  Nice.  I lost some old friends.  Not nice.  Father time claimed a few.  the others are difficult to explain.

It was an off year for bike riding.  The weather wasn't the greatest when I had some free time.  My little town is getting new water mains, and the streets were ripped up for most of the summer.  As for the patch job, I'm not sure if an actual road crew or vandals are responsible.  It's winter and the roads are still a mess.  It will be a long, bumpy, and muddy wait until spring.

There is a different name at the bottom of my pay checks and a different corporate name at the top.  They seem like decent folk, and I'm looking forward to great things in the new year.

My blog, andypalumbo.com, turned 15.  I took some decent photos this year, but not yearly enough.  There is a new lens in my bag, and I look forward to mastering it in the new year.

My cats seem happy, and I'm convinced one of them has my password and visits Chewy.com on a regular basis.  The boxes keep coming.

Credit cards I wasn't using were cancelled.  I still spend way too much on cable TV, and I rarely watch it.

I reconnected with a couple more high school friends, but it wasn't enough for me to attend our 40th reunion last month.

I acquired a pair of eyeglasses and a computer mouse I really like.

There was only one weekend spent in a hotel next to the office because of a snowstorm.  I went stir crazy.

There were wonderful expeditions to the local malls and dollar stores.  I look forward to more visits in the coming year.

I managed to survive renovations of my favorite gym and mini mart (separate businesses).

Unfortunately, I can't find a wallet I really like.

For the first time in years, I skipped the Christmas tree lighting at our alma mater, Marywood.  I just wasn't feeling it.  The Christmas spirit seems more elusive than usual this year.  It pains me to say that and I can't figure it out.  I still have so much for which to be thankful.

Well, that's my  2019.  At this time of year, I realize how blessed and thankful I am for everything I have.

I hope we both have a great 2020.

Your friend in Pennsylvania,

Andy.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Andy's Angles: Airborne



Now we know what Santa does when the reindeer have the night off.

It's how he travels a huge distance in a short amount of time.

This is another from the Nay Aug Park collection.

Enjoy.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Andy's Angles: Nay Aug Weekend


I recently had a quick chance to wander through the annual holiday light display at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  This is the first year the old bulbs have been replaced by LED's.

Let me tell you something.  A nice display has become even nicer.  The colors really pop.

As I always say, if you're in the neighborhood, drop by.



Friday, December 6, 2019

Horse Trading '19

It seems to start earlier every year, and I really should have made this blog entry a couple of weeks ago.  I call it "horse trading."

WNEP is a 24/7 operation.  While we might have some newscasts preempted because of college football,  we still need a staff around the clock, even on holidays.

This is the time of year when people take different shifts and do different things.  It's the give and take required to make sure everything's covered.  I'll be in, over the holidays, on some of my usual days off.  In return, I'll be free on days when I usually work.

It all evens out in the end.

The way I look at it, I'd rather work a holiday so people with big families, and people who have to travel can have the time off.  I'm fortunate in that everything I need to do is close.

Saddle up.  The holidays are here.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Media Reminiscing

I wish some of the media greats, like Brinkley, Chancellor and Cronkite were still around to observe our current political climate.  They could take apart both parties with surgical elegance-- not the name calling and silliness we're forced to endure today. 

I remember something my friend Kenny did in the mayhem of 8th grade math class.  I don't know what the instructor was trying to force upon us, but it wasn't going well.  At one point, at the top of his lungs, Kenny screamed "I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT!"  Media friends, especially with the cable networks and their oodles of time, please simply tell us what's going on.  I don't care what you think.  I can make up my own mind, once you give me the facts.  The problem is, no one is interested in the facts.

I also miss the days when ABC had Monday Night Football.  The network really knew how to put on a show.  There are several old intros on YouTube.  If you weren't interested in the teams, you were after the intro rolled.

I wonder what Howard Cosell would think of the current sports landscape.  Yes, he is best known for MNF and ABC's Wide World of Sports.  We often forget about his daily ABC radio commentaries.  They were always on the money.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Time for Two

I'm not greedy.  I'm not a glutton.  This is the time of year I buy two of everything at the supermarket or big box store.

You see, I hate shopping around Christmas.  Yes, some store visits can't be avoided.  But, I am buying more of everything so i don't have to go back and fight the crowds this month.

I explained the concept to a clerk while I was shopping on an early morning last year.  She seemed to get it, but was disappointed I wouldn't be there as often.  Well, hey, open up more check out lanes and I might consider it.

Things will be back to normal in January, and I can't wait.  In the meantime, I'm the guy dragging two shopping carts behind me.



Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Wasted Money

Some things drive me absolutely insane.

Background:  I am unashamedly old school.  There are certain proven standards that need to be followed.

More background:  I minored in public relations and advertising in college, and I learned from some of the best.  I've been in radio and television for nearly 40 years, and I've worked with some of the best.

Done.

I was leafing through the holiday gift edition of a local free entertainment weekly last week.  It was a special edition, and I learned it just by lifting it off the rack.  It was much heavier than its usual eight pages.  An aside:  What happened?

Another aside:  The issue contained some great gift ideas.  It almost makes me wish I had friends.

A good print ad should contain your address, phone number, web site, and business hours.  I was shocked to see how few had all four.  Plus, if you are in an out of the way, or a new location, give a landmark, something like "across the street from the courthouse."  Businesses are spending money to get people in the doors, and some of those businesses make it difficult for potential customers to find them.  They throw money away,  and then wonder why advertising didn't work for them.

I'm surprised things like that are allowed to happen.  It's all just common sense.

Keep it up, and I'll see you at the "going out of busniess" sale.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Epic Fail

Do you want another example of how traditional brick and mortar commerce is headed down the tubes?  By the way, I'm thinking of making this a regular blog entry feature.

Let's take you back to Thanksgiving morning, 4:00 am.  I was at my second favorite mini mart, part of a big chain, getting a frosty cold diet cola and an out of town newspaper.  By out of town, I mean 15 miles away.  It isn't delivered in my neighborhood, and this is the same newspaper that regularly has problems getting its print issues on to the streets.

Soda, paper, and loyalty card in hand, I strode to the cash register.

The clerk couldn't scan the bar code on the newspaper's page one.  It was just wasn't ringing up.  She tried another paper in the stack.  Nothing.  We suspected that because the paper jacked up its price 800 per cent (no lie) for Thanksgiving, the new bar code wasn't in the system.

Here is the kicker.  No unscanned item is allowed to leave the store!  There was no system in place for ringing up something that the scanner didn't recognize!   A manager wasn't on duty to green light the purchase.   As you well know, I am extremely capable of making a scene.  Rationality ruled.  I know the clerk.  She's an exceptionally nice woman, and she keeps her store spotless.  I knew this wasn't her fault.  She apologized.  I paid for my soda and left.  It was just a short trip, a couple of blocks away, to a less technology dependent mini mart, where I bought my newspaper for $ 4.00.

Get it together!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

About the Cover: First Tree

This is the first Christmas tree of the season here.  There will be more.  Deal with it.

Christmas trees are magic.  They can even brighten up a dreary parking lot, like this one in North Scranton, near Market and Main.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Andy's Angles: Everyone Knows It's Windy

The wind does have its charm.

This photo was taken well before sunrise Thanksgiving morning.  The flags at the veterans memorial outside Scranton High School on Providence Road were flying straight out.

It's a nice way to end the month in which we observe Veterans Day.

Now, on to December.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday

Welcome to Black Friday, one of my least favorite days of the year.  It's all about crowds, noise, excess, traffic, mayhem...  In other words, it's everything I despise.

This is the no judgement zone.  I realize there are people who take part in Black Friday to make those Christmas dollars stretch a bit more.  I get that.  It's just not for me.

My annual holiday line is that Christmas shopping for me is a breeze-- small family, no friends.  Shopping takes minutes, not hours.

If you will be out today, please be kind to the cashiers and everyone else who works in retail.  Those jobs are among the most difficult in the American economy.

Above all else, be safe.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

I'll refrain from my usual complaints today to simply wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

There are many days when it isn't easy, but we all have something for which to be thankful...  And if you are still having trouble coming up with something, there are plenty of people and organizations willing to help.

I'm thankful you stop by the blog every day.

Enjoy the holiday.

I'll call you back later.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Enough Already!

Facebook users, please stop.

I'm begging you.

I like cats, especially talking cats.

I don't know how this stuff starts.

This is more than I can take.

If you will be out today, go slowly and travel safely.  Tonight is a huge party night, so be extra careful.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

It Was Disgusting

It was during a trip to one of my favorite places last week:  the dollar store.

I bought a few items and was checking out when I noticed the cashier had a cold.  Not just congenstion, but a horrible, wet, drippy cold.

She tried her best to avoid hand to hand contact while handing me my change, but it couldn't be helped.  I'm sure the change was covered with germs, anyway.

If you're sick and especially if you deal with the public, STAY HOME!

It's entirely possible this employee couldn't afford to stay home-- family to support, bills to pay, holidays coming, etc.

It's also possible she was a part timer and this store chain didn't offer sick time.  I just don't know.

I couldn't wait to get to my car and grab the bottle of hand sanitizer I keep there.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Fred, Russell, & Me

Two of the most talked about movies over the weekend were "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" and "The Irishman."  I have a connection to both.

I met Fred Rogers in the mid 90's.  He was at the Crayola factory just outside of Easton to preside over a milestone in crayon manufacturing.  I think it was number 10 billion, or something like that.

I never watched his show.  I was a Captain Kangaroo kid growing up, but I have to say Fred Rogers was the real deal.  What you saw on tv was what you experienced in person.  He charmed the socks off a bunch of cynical journalists, simply by being himself.  I'm sorry I never kept a copy of the Crayola story.  I assume it's gathering dust in a Wilkes-Barre basement, like so much of our area's history.

I nearly met Russell Buffalino, one of the key figures in "The Irishman."  To quickly get you up to speed, the movie, and the book it's based on,  allege Buffalino ordered the hit on Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.

Buffalino served prison time for his ties to organized crime.  I was at WARM 590 when Buffalino was released.  WARM news director Jerry Heller sent me to Buffalino's home in Kingston to see if he was around.  I was naive, or brave, or both, and I went for it.  I knocked on his door.  No one answered.  I waited for a few minutes.  Nothing.  I left.  Dejected.  I really wanted that interview.

Will I see "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood?"  Maybe if I can get my hands on a DVD.  I can't see going to a theater.

I won't subscribe to Netflix to see "The Irishman."  Both movies are getting great reviews.  I love Joe Pesci, but the thought of enduring 3.5 hours of violence just doesn't appeal to me.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Andy's Angles: The Christmas Station

It's time to start making that pivot toward Christmas photographs, and this is the first of the season.  It's the Jessup train station, where Santa, on board a train, is scheduled to make an appearance December 7.

I found it odd that the station is decorated with blue icicle lights, while the rest of the town is done up in red and green.  Nonetheless, it's a nice look.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Andy's Angles: The Invasion

I snapped this one in a shopping center parking lot, in the Green Ridge section of Scranton Thursday morning.  It was an invasion of sea gulls.

It's not uncommon to see a gull or four in the area.  Most get here by hitching rides on the back of New Jersey trash trucks that dump in our area.  It's rare that you see this many in the same place at the same time.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Hey, Santa!

This is my favorite memory of the Scranton Santa parade, and it's kind of off the wall.

I was with my WNEP coworkers at the starting line several years ago.  Like most parades, it was late to start.  To stay warm and keep the blood moving on a cold December morning, I started walking around our staging area, Wyoming Avenue.  Yes, the route is different now.

I was saying hello to some old radio friends, and some people in the crowd.  I bumped in to Santa.  We started to chat.  He was asking me about the weather and some things he saw on that day's edition of Newswatch 16 Saturday Morning.  All I could think about was, Holy Cow!  Santa is calling me by first name and he watches me on the morning news.  I was blown away.

I guess it's true.  Santa knows all.  I have to work a bit harder to get off his "naughty" list.

As the years have elapsed, my schedule doesn't allow me to be at the parade in person.  I'll be watching Ryan's live reports as I'm at the anchor desk for Newswatch 16.  Then, Scott, Stacy, and Ryan have wall to wall parade coverage beginning at 9:30 AM.  We'll have a wrap up on Newswatch 16 Saturday night and again Sunday morning.

By the way, my friend, The Prospector from Rock 107 is this year's grand marshal.

If you can, be there.  The Scranton Santa parade is one of our area's "most funnest" events.  If you can't, watch it on TV.

Thanks, and an early Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Rolling the Dice

I had the honor of producing Newswatch 16 This Morning on Monday.  There were a couple of choices for lead story.  One was the start of the Shawn Christy trial in federal court at Scranton.  He's the man who allegedly threatened to kill the president.  The second was freezing rain in the eastern part of our coverage area.

Making a weather based decision can be tricky, and I don't envy all those school superintendents.  There are times they have to pull the trigger long before the precipitation starts to fall.  On the other hands, many of those cancel/delay decisions are no brainers.

I consulted meteorologist Ally Gallo when I started my shift.  Ice was a definite maybe.  I waited a couple of hours and talked with meteorologist Valerie Smock at the start of her shift.  The ice potential was still there but it was not a super imminent threat.  I kept the weather radar screen up as I typed away at the morning news.

The last thing you want is to be caught out of position when bad weather hits, although a certain state agency does it on a regular basis.

Finally, it was decision time.  One of the most important things we do is try to get you to work or school in one piece.  Dangerous weather is always at the top of the broadcast.  In this case, the potential was still there, but it wasn't happening.  There was no radar activity.  Valerie informed me that a coastal storm was moving east and away from us.  Reporter Sarah Buynovsky was going to the Christy trial.  "Road Dog" duty, as we call it, would wait for another day.

One of the reasons I will eventually have an ulcer the size of the Archbald Pothole is I'm a worrier.  As I was in the control room during the broadcast, I kept looking at the radar.  Nothing.  My eyes were constantly checking the bottom of the screen to see if cancellations and delays were coming in.  None.

While there was a major sigh of relief after the broadcast, I was still tied up in knots and I couldn't sleep when I got home.  I love my job, and bringing it home with me is one of the things that is part of the position.

No decision is easy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Welcome to the (Lack of) Party!

State Senator John Yudichak, who represents Luzerne and Carbon Counties made the announcement Tuesday.  He's leaving the Democrat party and will become an independent. Yudichak says he did it because of divisiveness in the system, and he sees too many people who put political party over what's best for the people.

The skeptic in me raises an eyebrow over this.  I think there's more to the story, and it will manifest itself in time.  I've met the senator a couple of times and have watched his work over the years.  I always believed he's a man of higher ambitions, and I'm surprised he has stayed put in the senate for so long.

The Harrisburg Patriot reports Yudichak will caucus with the majority Republicans, and could get committee assignments from the Republicans.

Hmmm...  Republican Donald Trump captured Luzerne County is 2016.  Luzerne County Council now has a Republican majority.  Is Senator Yudichak reading the tea leaves?  He is up for reelection in 2022.  Siding with the majority party might help in keeping Retreat State Prison and the White Haven Center open.  If Yudichak can pull that off, they will erect a statue of him in Public Square. 

Be that as it may, welcome to independent status, Senator Yudichak.  I've been an independent for years and years.  I have never missed an election in which I have been eligible to vote, and yes, independents have to sit out primaries, unless there is a ballot question.

I became an independent because I sat down one day and realized no political party really represents my views.  I choose my issues a la carte.  Conservative on some things.  Liberal on others.  Centrist on most.  It has nothing to do with being a journalist and being impartial.  In fact, I'm probably one of the most opinionated people you will ever meet.  You should hear some of our newsroom and news truck discussions (or arguments).  Like my coworkers, the "opinion" part of my brain goes in to "park" when I settle behind a newsroom computer keyboard, sit at the anchor desk, and pick up a microphone out in the field.

We haven't heard the last about the senator's jump.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Stuck in the Middle With You

It is one of the joys of going to the gym.  There is an array of televisions on a rack near the ceiling.

As I sweat away on the bikes, ellipticals, steppers, treadmills, etc, I can watch a variety of news broadcasts.

I was viewing wrap ups and discussions of the House Impeachment Inquiry Hearings, and it jumped out at me.  No two news networks were alike.  Some conservative.  Most liberal.  I wondered if the commentators and "anchors" were actually watching the hearings, or just spouting off their views.

Here's my advice to media moguls.  There is an opening for an impartial news network in this country that you can drive a truck through.  I hope someone ponies up the cash to make it happen, or one of the existing networks decides "enough is enough" and chooses to travel the straight and narrow.

Conventional wisdom has people choosing networks based on their comfort level with the point of view.

Me?  Just give me the news.  I can make up my own mind.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Media Monday

The McClatchy newspaper chain, one of the largest in the country, announced it's phasing out Saturday print editions by the end of 2020.  Tread carefully.  People will learn to live without you on Saturday.  Other days of the week are sure to follow.  In the media industry, habits are exceptionally important.

NBC is shuffling executives on "Tonight" with Jimmy Fallon.  There are nights the show finishes in third place, behind Colbert and Kimmel.  According to the New York Post, NBC doesn't know if it wants to travel the political route, like others have done, or do something different.  While it would be nice to have a politics-free oasis at 11:35 PM, Fallon isn't the guy.  He's a talented comedian and musician, but Fallon still looks terrified during his monologue and he's a weak interviewer.  And, enough with the silly games!

The FOX News Channel scored impressive numbers during last week's impeachment hearings.  What does that tell us?  Do not underestimate President Trump's popularity.

Mike Francesa is retiring from WFAN in New York, again.  This one scores a yawn in my book.  Francesa stopped being really relevant a long time ago.

I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.  I recently picked up a three month Sirius/XM free trial, and that includes "American Top 40" with Casey Kasem.  The production values on that show are simply outstanding.

Disney lining up a ton of subscribers for its streaming service is impressive.  I don't subscribe to any streaming services, and I have no plans to.

"Sports Illustrated" gave up on being a weekly a long time ago.  It's now struggling to hold on as a monthly.  It's sad, and i know times have changed, but there would be days, as a kid, when I couldn't wait for the letter carrier to drop it off.  Student subscriptions were exceptionally reasonable.

A bizarre circumstance in the car on a recent late night.  I desired news-- top of the hour network news.  One station that usually has it was broadcasting two guys yammering about a meaningless hockey game.  The next choice was off the air because of the wind storm.  I thought about it, and those were the only two stations that regularly inform their listeners.  Luckily, I found an out of town station with news when I hit the AM scan button.

CBS Sunday Morning profiled former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw yesterday.  On one hand, it was nice to see some old video.  On the other, it pains me to see Brokaw old and frail.

Happy birthday to Newswatch 16's Mike Stevens.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Andy's Angles: Welcome to Winter

Don't I look absolutely thrilled to be standing in a cold rain, doing my first winter road report of the season?

My friend and co-worker, Sarah Buynovsky, took the northern tier.  That area was getting the change over from rain to ice, to snow first.  I took the south, where the rain was holding on longer than in the rest of our area, in spite of the 2,000 foot elevation.   It was important to show the contrast.  Sarah had the snow in Montrose.  I had rain, then ice, then snow, in Mount Pocono.

No matter hard you try, it's impossible to stay dry, especially on a windy morning, when the rain was coming at you sideways.  Photographer Jason and I were very fortunate.  A drop of water in the wrong place can put you temporarily out of business.  The gear stayed dry.  We stayed on the air.

And, it's just the beginning.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Andy's Angles: Marywood Christmas

First, I didn't take this photo.  It's actually a screen grab from a Newswatch 16 story done by reporter Stacy Lange and photographer Mike Cholko.  It's the mailing and printing building.

The architecture students at my alma mater, Marywood University, are decorating the campus for a drive-through Christmas light display.  The switch gets flipped December 4, right after the Christmas tree lighting in the Liberal Arts Building.

Christmas seasons at colleges are tough.  Students are occupied with finals, and they're gone by the middle of the month.  I was one of those people who was around during Christmas break because I was one of the townies who kept the radio station on the air.

Marywood has a big and beautiful campus, and I can't wait to see the finished Christmas project.

Friday, November 15, 2019

A Toast to 15

This blog turns 15 years old today, and I am happy to report that while other blogs have disappeared, this one endures.

Why?  Because I have nothing better to do with my time.

Seriously, it's a nice little creative outlet for me, and it's a chance to let you what's really going on out there.  I get a minute and half to tell my stories on TV.  The blog allows for the occasional perspective and analysis-- and a little fun.

It never had a ton of readers.  There is a solid 200+ hits every day, and I thank those who link it to their Facebook and Twitter pages.  I do that myself, once in a while, if there is an entry I feel deserves wider distribution.

Why the wine glass?  Crystal is the gift for a 15th anniversary, so drink up.

There is still some gas left in the tank.

I'll meet you back here tomorrow.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Say My Name

While I have yet to be a guest on Joe Snedeker's "Mr. Curiosity" podcast, at least I've been mentioned twice.

Let me give you the abridged version.  Norm Jones told the story of how he began working at WNEP, and I played a small role in that.  We had an opening.  Our executive producer at the time was watching tapes of applicants.  Yes, people sent out tapes in those days.   I walked in to the conference room to ask an unrelated question.  Norm's tape from his Ohio station was on the TV screen.  Loved his voice.  Loved the way he constructed a story.  I told the executive producer "There's your guy."  The rest is history.  While Norm is very happy out of the business, it's our loss.  He was a solid reporter an anchor.  More importantly, he's good people.

The same can be said for Kerry Brazen.  Good people.  On the podcast, Kerry told the story of  her internship here at WNEP, and I was around in those days.  We've remained friends, and wound up with adjacent desks here in the newsroom.  She referred to me as her "uncle."  While that made me feel very old, I do take it as a compliment.  I watched Kerry take on additional responsibilities.  She joined us at 4 pm producer.  "Taste Test" and "16 to the Rescue" were added to her corral.  The animal feature was new, and she's made "Taste Test" her very own.

Joe is always asking for me to appear with "Mr. Curiosity."  The jury is still out.  I think it would be as interesting as heck, but I'm still on the fence.

I'd love a podcast of my own, and it's very possible in the days to come.  I've been kicking around a few ideas.  Nothing jumps out at me, at this time.  When it does, you know the rest.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Book Review: "It Shocked Even Us"

Being a broadcaster does have at least one minor down side.  I spend all day with my nose in a computer, reading the news and writing the news.  Recreational reading has taken a back seat, and that troubles me a great deal.  I did try to remedy things during a recent vacation.  I recently reviewed a book on "Match Game."  Today, it's something completely different.

I bought "It Shocked Even Us" by Frank Cipolla several months ago, and I let it sit on a shelf.  Big mistake in litting it sit, unread.  I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, and I loved every page.

Frank Cipolla is a New York City kid, who got his start in radio at a tiny, now defunct, radio station in Washington, NJ-- just over the Pennsylvania line.  He went on to work in cable TV news, plus more radio and WWOR TV in Secaucus.  While the stations were different, he and I encountered many of the same types of characters and situations over the years.  Some of what Cipolla mentions is "inside baseball."  For the most part, even people outside of the industry will get what Cipolla writes about.  You'll enjoy it.

In the small world category, Cipolla has pages dedicated to his radio adventures with Jim Bosh.  Cipolla and Bosh worked together in Elizabeth, NJ.  I used to listen to Bosh during his time at WILK in Wilkes-Barre, though we never met.  Cipolla also tells a Joann Pileggi story.  Joann and I worked together for years at WYOU.  There is also a paragraph on Frank Deom, a former WNEP photographer, who did a stint at WWOR

And, one of the biggest kicks of all-- my book came autographed, and Frank enclosed one of his business cards.  I dropped him an email, to say how much I loved the book.  He replied quickly, and that was really neat.

If you really want to know what happens when the cameras are off and the microphones are dead, buy this book!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

PS

REVISITING SOME PREVIOUSLY DISCUSSED TOPICS...

In analyzing last week's election results, I neglected to tell you about my predictions.  The Cognetti win was not a total surprise in Scranton.  The margin was larger than I expected.  That poses a number of issues.  Will Scranton Democrats unite all factions and rally around an obviously popular candidate?  Will the size of her victory scare off challengers in two years?  Much depends on job performance.  In politics, you can attract a crowd quickly and lose it just as fast.  She does seem to be the favorite of the newspaper crowd, so Cognetti will get the benefit of the doubt from some in the media when something goes wrong.  And, no matter how good you are, something always goes wrong.

Debi Domenick's win for Lackawanna County Commissioner was not a total surprise.  I did raise an eyebrow over her strong second place finish.

Last month's World Series between Houston and Washington was the third lowest rated of all time, and that's a shame.  Yes, some games were blow outs, and the games last way too long.  On the other hand, there were some great stories here, with interesting players.  If you missed this series, you missed a good one.

Sears/KMart is closing about 100 more stores.  In our area, Wilkes-Barre Township, Berwick and Williamsport are going early next year.  A chain that once had close to 4,000 is now down to a couple of hundred.  I've said it before, you cannot cut your way to prosperity.  I would not be surprised if the rest of the chain goes belly up after what is likely to be a horrible Christmas season.  It's too bad.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day

There are times I am exceptionally proud of my alma mater, Marywood University.  It was a "college" back in my day.

For the past several years, students have been planting American flags in the field behind the Fine Arts Building.  You can access it from North Washington Avenue.  There is one flag for every soldier's death in the global war against terror, nearly 7,000.

In one hand, it's nice to see the students are aware and active, and that no sacrifice is forgotten.  On the other hand, it makes you sad when you think one flag represents someone who never came home to their family.

One quick story before I go on this Veterans Day.  I was in the Dunmore Sheetz the other morning.  Two soldiers were also in the store.  As I waited for my hot dogs, I could hear several people go up to the soldiers and say five simple words:  "Thank you for your service."

On this Veterans Day, thank you.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Andy's Angles: Election Day

E
It's my belief that you pay for elections, so you deserve to see how they work.  You can take pictures inside a polling place, stay out of everyone's way, and not be intimidating.  That's always been our goal, and I am proud to say, at least on stories that I've been involved with, there is a 100 per cent success rate.
Thanks to the people in Hazleton.  It was nice meeting so many Newswatch 16 fans.  You have a city where great things can be achieved.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Andy's Angles: Take the Long Way Home

I saw this from the passenger's seat as photographer Jason and I drove north on Interstate 81 near Wilkes-Barre the other morning.

If you look carefully on the blue section on the back of the left side, you'll see the logo for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.  Yes, it's a San Francisco rail car in Luzerne County.  I know there's a place in the region that rehabs subway and rail cars.  I would like think there is some place closer to San Francisco where it can be done.  It's also possible the car was sold and was headed to a new home.

We'll never know and it was a fascinating sight.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Half and Half = All Bad

It was election morning.  A woman walked in to a polling place, dressed in red, white and blue, and sporting an American flag pin.  I complimented her on the patriotic attire.  She replied that she is a social studies teacher.  I told her that, in my view, social studies teachers do noble work.  I meet so many people, especially young people, who have no idea how politics, the government, law, courts, etc work, and it makes me sad.

What I heard next caused me to lose my stuff-- half saddened, half outraged.  The teacher explained that many of her social studies classes are being phased out, in favor of STEM.

Don't get me wrong.  Science, technology, engineering and match are important.  Those are the skills students need to get good jobs, and I am thrilled we are encouraging young women to enter those fields.

All that STEM knowledge can be rendered irrelevant if we don't produce good citizens.  You simply have to know how the world around you works.

Teach STEM.  Leave some room for the rest.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Book Review: "Match Game 101"

I will readily admit that I have no life.  I read a Gene Rayburn biography a couple of years ago, and buying "Match Game 101" was a no brainer.

It comes down to this-- if you were a Match Game fan, you'll love the book.  The author talked with the people who were there-- the stars, the writers, and all the back stage people who made it happen.

What I particularly liked was there were several chapters on the New York days, the first incarnation of the show that ran from 1962 to 69.

Of course, most of the book was dedicated to the glory days of the 70's.

Be prepared.  "Match Game 101" looks and feels like a text book.  It's huge and it's not cheap.  It will run you around $40.  I enjoyed every page and it was worth the investment.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Day After

A quick take on some of the results of yesterday's election...

Paige Cognetti wins the race for mayor of Scranton, and it wasn't close.  Cognetti racked up 37 per cent of the vote.  Councilman Kyle Donahue finished second, with 23 per cent.  Cognetti has an impressive education, but she had better study for a degree in Scranton politics.  First, the city still has plenty of problems.  Second, and possibly more importantly, the election split the city Democrat party into factions.  There will have to be some serious fence mending and coalition building.  Cognetti finishes out the final two years of felon Bill Courtright's term.  That means "Vote 2010" begins today, and I'm sure there are people already interested in making sure Cognetti doesn't get a full term.

Some poll numbers leaked over the weekend, showing Cognetti with a huge lead and a lot of undecideds.  I was skeptical.  In retrospect, the poll was very close to being totally accurate.

Chris Cullen, the Democratic party's chosen candidate finished third.  It seems the city Democratic party doesn't have the influence it once did.

Derek Slaughter cruises to an easy win over Eric Beiter in Williamsport.  The city has a crime problem.  We saw that over the summer, with a rash of shootings, some fatal.  I suspect Slaughter and Cognetti won't have much of a honeymoon period.  People will expect results on cleaning up Scranton's corruption and fixing Williamsport's crime issues right after they take office in January.

Jeff Cusat gets a second term as mayor of Hazleton.  Police Chief Jerry Speziale was a frequent campaigner for Cusat on social media.  He was apparently a good guy to have in your corner.  As of this writing, Cusat is up by 16 points.

Democrats will still rule Lackawanna County.  The Noratianni Domenick team sweeps to victory.  Republican Chris Chermak will hold the minority spot.  Mike Gianetti finishes out of the money.  He had to hurt by some questional social media posts over the years.  Notarianni is a proven vote getter, and this is the second consecutive election where he finished with the most votes.  There will be two new faces in the commissioners' offices in January.  Pat O'Malley and Laureen Cummings couldn't get past the primary.

One other note, and why do I have to say this after every election?  It's 2019, and some counties still don't have their acts together when it comes to getting out election numbers.  Many counties will be using a new system next year.  I hope it gets better.

Thanks to all the candidates.  There are no losers.  Everyone who has the stones to participate is a winner.

On to 2020.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Election Day

It's finally here.  It's Election Day in Pennsylvania

Use your right.  Use your privilege.  Use your television remote and  punch in WNEP all day, and WNEP2 for wall to wall coverage, beginning when the polls close at 8 PM.

My work plans are up in the air as I begin the day, but a short caucus with the producer, anchors, photographers, and fellow reports should quickly solve that.  We did a lot of the preliminary work yesterday, and there are a few different scenarios that can play out.

I'll be voting after I get out of work at noon.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a larger than normal turnout today, especially in Lackawanna County.  That's where there is a big race for county commissioner and Scranton mayor.

Some quick notes about the race for Scranton mayor...  The winner fills out the last two years of admitted felon Bob Courtright's term.  I know some of the candidates personally.  No matter who wins, the city will be in good hands.  After all, the bar hasn't been set very high.  The last elected mayor was running a criminal enterprise out of his office.

There are seven in the running.  A close race would not be a surprise.  I would not be shocked if we didn't know the winner at the end of the night.  With that many in the race, it's bound to be close, with write ins, recounts and absentee ballots telling the tale.  Stay tuned.

And, when you hear any so called expert say it all comes down to turnout, laugh and turn the dial.  Every election, every race, depends on turnout.

One of the candidates released a poll yesterday, showing that candidate is far in front.  There is a large number of undecideds as we begin this election day.  I have a feeling many voters will not make a choice until they have ballot in hand.

See you at the polls, and look for a little numbers analysis in this space tomorrow morning.

>>>2:30 AM UPDATE:  Already been at the office for a while, going over notes and scripts, recording the audio for my election morning stories.  In a break with tradition, I skipped my usual election morning breakfast of a fast food spicy chicken sandwich and fries.  I just wasn't feeling it.  My choice was unfrosted strawberry Pot Tarts and a granola bar.

>>>4:40 AM UPDATE:  We picked Hazleton City Hall for our live shot location this morning. There is a mayor's race here today, one of four big cities in our area picking  mayor today.  Hazleton City Hall is also a polling place.  I thought I over-dressed this morning, but in retrospect, it was a wise decision.  It's cold up here!

>>>7:20 AM UPDATE:  Two polling places at Hazleton City Hall.  Brisk early morning turnout, but not what I would consider heavy.  Only a couple of people waiting in line as the polls opened at 7.  Several more trickled in during the first few minutes.  Very nice people here.  Met several morning broadcast fans.

>>>8:15 AM UPDATE:   Anecdotal reports of mixed turnout.  Lighter in Luzerne County, heavier in Lackawanna County and Scranton.  There is typically a rush at the beginning and the end, slower in midday.

>>>9:40 AM UPDATE:  Finished writing a story for noon, handed script off to editor and photographer Bonnie, talking with our crews headed out the door for a very long day and night.

>>>11:00 AM UPDATE:   Signed, sealed, delivered.  Noon video piece is completed.  Heading out the door to be live at a polling place at noon.  I'll stop to vote on the way home.  If all goes well, there will be an afternoon nap so I can stay up tonight to watch the election returns.

>>>2:10 PM UPDATE:    The live broadcast at noon went well.  I saw some old friends and a few new ones at a polling place in Scranton.  After work and after the dry cleaner, but before the bank and pizza shop, I voted.  I was number 111 in my precinct.  To be honest with you, that is not really an impressive number.  It's easy to understand.  All the borough races were decided in the primary.  There are only two contested races on the county level.  I get the apathy, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.

As I was leaving the office, an army of people was entering.  They're working on our afternoon and evening broadcasts, plus election coverage.  Plenty of people are working double shifts to make sure you get the information you need.  I did come in a little early and spent plenty of time running around, but it wasn't even close to pulling a double.  I appreciate the hard work of my coworkers and I know you do too.

That's it for this day.  There will be an attempt at some analysis in this space tomorrow.  Be well.  As Barry Farber used to say, "I'll call you back later."

Monday, November 4, 2019

40

The Iran Hostage Crisis began 40 years ago today.

Olyphant native Michael Metrinko was part of the group.  Our hearts ached as we watched his family here at home struggle with 444 days of captivity, and we shared in their joy when Michael finally made it home.

The Iran Hostage Crisis changed international relations, American politics, and television news.

Iran, with the Shah gone, became an enemy.  The middle east was even less stable.  President Jimmy Carter looked incompetent, and the crisis helped Ronald Reagan sweep into office.

And then, there was ABC News.

ABC was making a major push in the late 70's.  The relatively new "World News Tonight" was getting noticed.  News president Roone Arledge was making big hires, spending big money, and he had the news division firing on all aggressive cylinders.

ABC decided to do a 15 minute update at 11:30 every night.  It was anchored by Frank Reynolds and when he need a break, Ted Koppel took the anchor chair.  The broadcast morphed into "Nightline."  It became must see TV, with live reports on breaking news and Koppel's sharp and incisive interview style.

"Nightline" has seen some changes in recent years.  As someone who is around late at night and early in the morning, we frequently receive notices that "Nightline" is reacting to breaking news and bringing in fresh video.  It spawned some imitators.  "NBC News Overnight" was great until the network pulled the plug.  CBS had "Up to the Minute."  It too produced some great stuff, until the network decided to deploy its resources elsewhere.

It's amazing how much those 444 days changed America.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

About the Cover: Color



November can be a dark, cold, and grey month.  No major complaints on my part.  I've had some really good camera expeditions in November.  A lack of color can be as visually interesting at a many hued peacock.



November is not a good leaf peeping month.  Most of the leaves are gone, and the ones that remain are brown.

Let's enjoy a little color while we have it.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Andy's Angles: Medical Mall

A huge medical company recently announced plans to locate some of its services inside the Marketplace at Steamtown.  It's a good thing.  Construction.  Jobs.  Vacant space filled.  More people downtown.  Access to medical services.


It also makes me a little sad.  I remember the days when malls, especially this one, were a big deal.  Those days are over and I can't see them ever coming back.  Never ever.

At least, it's better than empty space.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Let's Review

I'm in the last hours of my last vacation week of 2019.  So, what did I accomplish?  Very little-- and proud of it.

As always, I tried to catch up on some sleep.  I also read quite a bit, knocking off a couple of books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while.  The book reviews will be in this space in the days to come.  There was a little shopping, and a ton of errands.

I usually get together with an old high school friend while I'm off.  I slept through his text the other day, and I'm sorry about that.

It's hard to believe that 2019 is drawing to a close.  I still have a scattered couple of days to burn off, and the vacation time bank will be renewed on January 1.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Time Warp

It's time for my twice yearly rant against the time change.

Standard Time returns at 2 AM Sunday. 

Most of you get an extra hour of sleep.  I get an extra hour of work.  No complaints.  It evens out in the spring.  It actually works out better in the long run.  When you are on overnights, you look forward to those early sunrises and early sunsets.  Light in the evening is the enemy.

Every study ever done shows Daylight Saving Time doesn't save energy.  It's not worth the disruption, and losing that hour of sleep in the spring really throws people out of whack.

Several state legislatures have considered staying on Standard Time all year round.  Lots of talk.  No action.

Do you think it's time?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

WinterWatch

The federal government is out with its annual winter forecast.  The prediction:  a little warmer than usual, a little weather than usual.  The forecasters admit there is a 50 per cent chance they are wrong.

Remember that prediction of a horrible hurricane season?  How did that work out?

Call me a Luddite, but in spite of all that new technology, a forecast of longer than a few days is a guess.  It's nice that we can see storms forming and get a general idea of their track.  Beyond that, it's a crap shoot.

It's winter.  It's going to get cold.  It's going to snow.  That's pretty much all you need to know.

If you were thrilled, or saddened by the long range forecast, relax.  It's probably wrong.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

One Week

The general election is one week from today.  Turnout for these off year elections is usually low, and that always bothers be.  You're picking mayors, council members, supervisors, school board members, commissioners, etc.  These are the people who really control your life because they call the shots on your taxes, your public safety, and your schools.

There are some wild cards this year.  Will Scranton and Lackawanna County turn out be up because of the hotly contested races for mayor and county commissioner?  Will Wilkes-Barre turnout be down because George Brown won the nominations of both parties in May and is guaranteed to become Wilkes-Barre's next mayor, replacing one-termer Tony George?

You have one week to study the candidates, all races, all places, and make informed choices.  It's not that hard.  It doesn't take much time.  It's worth the effort.

As of this writing, I don't know where I will be election morning, but election night, I'll be watching wall-to-wall coverage on WNEP2 and checking WNEP.com.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Media Monday

The Phillies made a good choice when they picked Joe Girardi as their new manager this week.  I'm sorry to see Girardi leave the MLB Network.  He was really good at TV, and I hope he returns some day.

I haven't been watching the World Series live, but I do catch the next day replays on FS1.  Joe Buck is solid, as always.  John Smoltz is steady, even though he doesn't bring much to the table.

The New York Post seems to have declared open season on Norah O'Donnell and the "CBS Evening News."  It seems there is a story on the broadcast's ratings problems every week.  It's not a bad broadcast, even though the hype machine has been turned up a bit.  There is always some ratings changes when there is a change in the anchor chair, and CBS local news gets hammered in several large cities.  Therefore, the network broadcast gets a poor lead-in.

Facebook's founder received a grilling on Capitol Hill this week.  Among the topics, Facebook keeping its hands and its fact checkers away from political ads.   This is all so simple.  Stop believing everything you read on the internet.  Problem solved.

ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" just passed its 18th anniversary.  It remains the best studio show on the schedule.

The great Craig Ferguson has signed on to do a game show for ABC.  It's called "The Hustler."  It appears to be a quiz type show, but the twist is one of the contestants has the answers, and the other contestants have to figure out who it is.  No air date set.  Color me intrigued.

I wish the news media would stick to covering the news, rather than arguing about the way the competition does things.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Andy's Angles: Uno

You knew it had to happen.

There are a lot of chain restaurants in a relatively small piece of real estate near the Viewmont Mall in Dickson City.  Quaker Steak and Lube and Tilted Kilt are long gone.  Uno joins the list at the end of the month.

I've been in an Uno only once in my life.  It was in Philadelphia in the early 90's.  Nice place.  Good food. I've never been to the Dickson City restaurant.

Management was quoted in the paper as saying competition from all the other pizza restaurants did them in.  I suspect there is more to the story.  If you offer a good product, at a decent price, with good service, people will flock to your door.

I feel sorry for the people losing their jobs when Uno closes.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Andy's Angles: Kevin

I'm not the kind of man
who tends to socialize.
I seem to lean on
old familiar ways.

--Paul Simon



Valerie Smock made the transition from Noreen Clark a very easy one for me.

The same can be said of Kevin Derk.  He's been filling in for Valerie while she is on maternity leave.

I'm on vacation this weekend, and this is Kevin's last regularly scheduled appearance on our weekend morning broadcasts.  I never met him before he started filling in at WNEP.  The guy is a professional and very easy to work with.  We had our temporary farewell after our Sunday morning broadcast.  As I write this, Valerie is scheduled to return the first weekend of November.  I'm looking forward to working with her again. 

We're not done with Kevin.  He'll be filling in from time to time and we're lucky to have him around.

Kevin, thank you for the help and adding to our weekend morning broadcasts for the past couple of months.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Vacation!

By now, you know what the appearance of sleeping Homer means.  I'm on vacation.

I plan to do as little as possible.

The weekend morning broadcasts are once again in the very capable hands of Carmella Mataloni.

I hope to see you again soon.